Jean-Eric Vergne shocked at Formula E’s handling of crane incident

Although the second race at the Riyadh street circuit finished behind the Safety Car, it wasn't the biggest concern after the E-Prix


Two-time Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne has strongly criticised race control’s handling of recovery vehicles during the latter stages of the second race at the Diriyah E-Prix.

A late Safety Car was called with five minutes to go when Mahindra‘s Alexander Sims spun and came to a halt at the high-speed Turn 6.

During the recovery procedure, a crane was used to lift and retrieve Sims‘ car which appeared to block the track, leading to the entire field coming to a halt.

When the drivers came back around for a second time, Sims‘s Mahindra was dangling in the air whilst the field trundled by.

“[I’m] still shocked to see how the end of the race was handled,” Vergne wrote on Twitter on the morning after the race.

“A Crain [crane] on track, a Safety Car stopping right before it in a blind corner resulting in cars piling up, no informations given to us…seems like people don’t learn from past mistakes.”

Race director defends incident

The incident caused uproar on social media, with some fans questioning whether the FIA had learned from the fatal accident in Formula 1 at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix, when Jules Bianchi died from his injuries when he hit a recovery vehicle.

Formula E race director Scot Elkins believes all safety measures were assessed and the only mistake he made was not warning the drivers about the crane.

Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA), DS Techeetah, DS E-Tense FE21

“I think everybody would notice that the Safety Car slowed down to under 10km/h going through there, almost to the point of where the entire field stopped,” Elkins told RaceFans. “So clearly, we’re taking care of what we’re doing there.

“But, again, as a street circuit, it’s narrow. It’s difficult to do that. But we were taking all of those safety measures into account, again, really slowing the safety car down really, really slowly.

“That’s probably the one error, of not giving everybody a heads up that the safety of slowing down, because it did back up a little bit and was a little bit discombobulated.

“But it surely wasn’t anything that we were doing in any way that we wouldn’t normally do on a street circuit.”

Nigel Chiu
Nigel Chiu is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who worked at Total-Motorsport for 18 months until May 2023. He has been following F1 since 2007 and hasn’t missed a Grand Prix weekend since. Nigel’s worked with several motorsport websites, plus Eurosport and subsequently went on to work with Sky Sports F1 where he travels to multiple F1 races each season.
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